Happy Birthday to the GREAT New Yorker HARVEY KEITEL : in my eyes he’s up there in the top 20 actors of all time, displaying passion & energy in some of my favorite films of all time : I remember watching Harvey give a powerhouse of a display for a young Scorsese in Mean Streets alongside De Niro and after watching realising this guy is gona be the new Brando, of course his collaborations with Marty are incredible and some of his best work but for me My top two Keitel performances both came in 1992 and both exploded from the screen like a stick of dynamite, Mr White in Quentin Tarantino’s debut Reservoir Dogs and of course his raw and disturbing LT in Abel Ferrara’s no nonsence Bad Lieutenant : for me Keitel stands tall with the greats of film, his performances have been varied and most of all consistently GREAT : Happy 82nd Legend !!
Born in Canada on this day in 1916 this wonderfully gifted actor is the first in what will become a regular feature here at Absolute Badasses : the 40s, 50s & 60s was dominated by the western or gritty noir picture that fell nicely for Glenn Ford the son of a railroad executive who moved to Santa Monica when he was eight years old : before his acting career took hold Glenn worked as a barkeep in Santa Monica earning $5 a week, became an expert plumber and installer of plate glass windows : in 1939 Glenn’s life changed when he made his movie debut in Heaven with a Barbed Wire Fence for director Ricardo Cortez and so his journey was underway : in a long career Glenn Ford starred in over 100 movies, unbelievably he never appeared in a film nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award and was often credited as the fastest gun in the movie industry (even faster than John Wayne & James Arness) : my own personal favorites are seen in the pictures above, 3:10 to Yuma where he starred as gunslinger Ben Wade alongside Van Heflin, in 1946 came Ford’s huge break appearing alongside the gorgeous Rita Hayworth in Gilda, he would become great friends with Hayworth even becoming one of the pallbearers at her funeral in the late 80s, in 1953 he starred in one of Fritz Lang’s finest, the gritty film noir The Big Heat opposite Gloria Grahame, Marlon Brando’s sister Jocelyn Brando and Lee Marvin, then of course in 1978 he played Pa Kent in Richard Donner’s Superman : sadly due to ill health Ford retired from acting aged 75 and died in 2006 aged 90, he was born to entertain and some of his other note worth performances include: Pocketful of Miracles, The Fastest Gun Alive, Blackboard Jungle, Lust for Gold and so many more…
Whilst attending the scene of a crime two paramedics have an encounter with a drug that has bizarre, otherworldly effects : Moorehead and Benson’s latest slice of cinematic originality exceeded all my expectations and like Resolution, Spring and The Endless their newbie SYNCHRONIC blew my mind : like their previous endeavours this film has you talking, it’s a real humdinger of a story that involves time travel, it’s consequences and the bond between two friends that is tested to the max : Anthony Mackie and Jamie Dornan give strong performances as Steve & Dennis respectively who are not only best friends but are also working colleagues that stumble upon this drug, Steve has recently been told by a doctor that he has a brain aneurysm which will likely end his life sooner rather than later so decides to take one of these pills to see what happens… : their’s some terrific work behind the camera with New Orleans painted with a style and haunting beauty that it deserves, I also love the chemistry between the two leads, whether it be knocking a golf ball around or walking through those deserted streets the heart to heart moments involving Steve and Dennis are great in a bromantic kinda way, I love Hawkings and wasn’t too happy at what happened there and I love the mysterious X-Files tension that Ramiz Monsef’s character Kermani gives to the movie, that scene in Steve’s house is some crazy shit right there : Overall Synchronic is a movie that will no doubt divide, my view is that it’s originality, tension driven storytelling is someting that all movie fan would like more of, it’s a film that’s full of intrigue, carries a dynamic score, good performances and a fitting location to boot : THUMBS UP from this mad hatter ★★★★½
Number 21 of My Top 31 Horror Movies : The film follows a married couple that haunted by a series of mysterious occurrences after the death of their young child : I’ve never had children but everytime I revisit this grief stricken horror movie I can’t stop thinking about it for days after, it’s truly haunting and it’s not just the death of the young child it’s pretty much everything about the film, from it’s dubious looking characters, Daphne Du Maurier’s dark & mysterious story, the down trodden city of Venice that gives the movie it’s atmospheric look just as Corwall did for Du Maurier’s ghostly Rebecca, the twisting narrow streets and murky canals of the Italian city are brought to life, in haunting and surreal fashion by frequent Roeg collaborator Anthony Richmond and Julie Christie & Donald Sutherland with two of the most authentic, enriching performances I have ever seen, their onscreen chemistry is beautiful to watch : Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now is one of the most memorable, shocking & scary horror movies that’s graced the screen & if you get the chance may I recommend the Criterion Edition as it’s utterly gorgeous and contains lot’s of fabulous extras too ★★★★★
Antonio Campos continues on from his 2016 movie Christine with another miserable, downbeat yet compelling piece of filmmaking : taking center stage in The Devil All the Time is the bible belt of West Virginia and some of it’s unsavory characters that all merge together over a time span of 15 years or more to create the backbone of the story the novel of which is written by Donald Ray Pollock who also in a rather poetic and wonderful way narrates the movie : it’s story is full of deluded, nasty characters and we get to meet some of them on our journey from Bill Skarsgard’s war torn, emotion driven father (that dog scene is heartbreaking), Pattison’s creepy peverted preacher (the crazy good speech after he receives the welcome food is haunting), the husband & wife serial killing team played by Jason Clarke & Riley Keogh to Harry Melling’s frightening turn as a preacher who’s bitten by a spider to crazy consequences : The Devil All the Time is not pretty, it’s over 2hrs of dark & bleak imagery but along with it’s sublime acting from it’s outstanding cast & great material it’s filmmaker Antonio Campos manages to grip you early doors and it’s utterly fascinating with how each & every character in the stories arc fit’s together like a jigsaw each of them slotting into place ready for it’s dramatic finale : so if you liked Winter’s Bone or The Place Beyond the Pines then The Devil All the Time is a must watch ★★★★½
SUMMER OF 84 : François Simard, Anouk Whissell and Yoann-Karl Whissell
Tiera Skovbye, Rich Sommer, Graham Verchere, Judah Lewis, Caleb Emery, Cory Gruter-Andrew
Didn’t know a great deal about Summer of 84 until I watched it and WOW now I wana watch it again and come on guys get a sequel rolling – Young kids riding bikes, walkie talkies, insane atmospheric soundtrack and nonstop 80’s nostalga dripping from each scene like a personal trip down memory- lane this movie has the lot and is so much fun to watch – I mean what can I say about the kids in the movie apart from HOLY SHIT you guys rock every SINGLE scene, Tiera Skovbye is a fabulous young actresses and as CUTE as a button playing the kids crush Nikki and what about Mad Men’s Rich Sommer isn’t he just perfect as the creepy neighbor – I really did enjoy this movie so much and as for those last 20 minutes… sheeeeet me what a brilliant dark turn it all takes, my finger nails took a battering and now I’m looking a little more closely at those around me – SUPERB MOVIE ★★★★
BREATH : Simon Baker
Sam Coulter, Ben Spence, Elizabeth Debicki, Simon Baker
I’ve not read Tim Winston’s novel BREATH that was published in 2008 but have just seen it’s film adaption by debut director Simon Baker and it’s an absolute peach, a slow burning coming-of-age surfing movie set in 70s Australia where two friends Pikelet & Loonie discover a thrill seeking adventure amongst the waves – Samson Coulter & Ben Spence give wonderful performances as the two lads, the chemistry between them gives authenticity to their friendship and the fact that both lads are top surfer’s in real life helps enormously – along with the boys surfing & interaction with Simon Baker’s character Sando who’s a retired ex-surfing champ I really enjoyed the scenes between Coulter’s Pikelet & Eva played by the incredibly gifted Elizabeth Debicki these scenes are gorgeous and handled superbly – I must also mention the photography and especially the water sequences in the movie that are simply stunning and quite breathtaking to watch – If you’d like to watch a movie with no green screen, raw acting talent and a lovely story about friendship & adventure then Simon Baker’s Breath is for you – An Aussie Gem from start to finish ★★★★½
Since the great Ron Howard (Cocoon & Apollo 13) took over the reigns for SOLO: A Star Wars Story my excitement for the movie has been slowly building to a crescendo, and now having just watched the trailer 3 times on the spin I can honestly say has the makings of a great Star Wars movie and it could possibly challenge Rogue One and be the best of the new bunch of movies set around the Star Wars Universe – the film stars Alden Ehrenreich as a young Hans Solo and follows his early adventures with his Wookiee partner Chewbacca as they fight, fly and talk their way out of many a tight spot in the galaxy – the film also stars Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton and Paul Bettany and hits our screens at the end of May – take a peek at this trailer…. it looks a blast !!
It may not have the first movies ambition or the second’s intensity but The Cloverfield Paradox is actually a shit load of crazy ass fun – firstly if your a fan of 2008’s Cloverfield and it’s sequel of sorts 2016’s wonderful 10 Cloverfield Lane then I’m pretty confident you will find something in Paradox that will appeal to your movie loving heart and although the films coupled to the others in the franchise it most certainly has it’s own identity, very dark at times with a side order of light hearted Evil Dead humor – like most low budget scifi Paradox unashamedly takes from other classics in the genre and why the hell not, one minute you will be reminded of Alien the next Aliens and Event Horizon and with a genius cast that includes David Oyelowo & Gugu Mbatha-Raw, some pretty neat effects and an atmospheric score by Battlestar’s Bear McCreary it’s a movie that really does warrent enjoyment (in a popcorn style movie kind of way) and secondly it’s on Netflix so it’s free (well sort of) ★★★½
I really ENJOYED Kriv Stenders edge of the seat Crash-style thriller Australia Day – along with Bryan Brown & Shari Sebbens who is bloody brilliant by the way, it’s young cast really does excell & allows the films story to roll at a break neck pace and feel downright authentic – there’s so much running in the movie that at times I felt out of breath watching it all go down – the film brings to light a whole lot of issues such as race and underage prostitution and although there’s nothing new about it’s narrative filmmaker Kriv Stenders handles it well and delivers a movie that balances between a high octain thriller and one that also makes one think of the choices & consequences in one’s life – overall Australia Day is well worth the watch and yet another Aussie Gem ★★★★
from it’s gritty storyline, Takayanagi’s haunting at times beautiful camera work, Bale & Pike’s ability to suck you into Cooper’s narrative and Max Richter’s soul searching score Hostiles is one of the Best Western since Eastwood’s Unforgiven, it’s dark & brutal just like the times, it’s uncomplicated and I can’t remember Christian Bale ever giving a better performance – this is one to watch on the big screen, it’s a visual treat and by the way it’s by no means the Bale & Pike show there’s a whole bunch of stone cold, gritty performances from the tigerish Rory Cochrane as Metz, Jesse Plemons (yep him again) as Kidder & Jonathan Majors as Woodsen – Scott Cooper’s Hostiles is such an awesome ride LOVED IT !! ★★★★½
What’s it all about: “The film is set in 2045, with the world on the brink of chaos and collapse. But the people have found salvation in the OASIS, an expansive virtual reality universe created by the brilliant and eccentric James Halliday (Mark Rylance). When Halliday dies, he leaves his immense fortune to the first person to find a digital Easter egg he has hidden somewhere in the OASIS, sparking a contest that grips the entire world. When an unlikely young hero named Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) decides to join the contest, he is hurled into a breakneck, reality-bending treasure hunt through a fantastical universe of mystery, discovery and danger”
Having read READY PLAYER ONE well over 2yrs ago I like most fans have been waiting for this moment for what has seemed like an eternity – a film trailer for the movie based on the book by cinema’s greatest filmmaker STEVEN SPIELBERG and finally it’s here – if like me you love your scifi, your a fan of the gaming world of yesteryear such as Dungeons & Dragons and you enjoy a good old trip down 80s memory lane then hold onto your hats – in March 2018 Spielberg’s returning to the family blockbuster arena with a story that’s so much fun, so out of this word and one that’s jam packed with 80s pop culture your mind will completely frazzle – along with Steven Spielberg directing the movie I am so excited to see what the legendary cinematographer Janusz Kamiński does with it’s landscape, his work on Saving Private Ryan and Munich stand out but for me Catch Me If You Can is as good a movie Kamiński ever done – let’s hope Ready Player One goes one better – the film stars Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, T.J. Miller, Simon Pegg and Mark Rylance and lands on March 30th – enjoy the trailer….
After watching Bone Tomahawk back in 2015 my anticipation for the next S. Craig Zahler movie grew feverpitch, his simple style blended with a cult laid cast pumped with an explosive violent finale had me wondering how can this realatively new filmmaker top what I have classed as an instant cult classic? Well it only took 2 years and I had my answer BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99 is intoxicating in it’s execution, it’s sublime storytelling, it’s trade mark gut wrenching finale but most of all it’s one hell of a performance from Vince Vaughan as Bradley Thomas an ex-con boxer trying to make a living in any way which he can to provide for his wife and their unborn baby when all shit rains down and things get really ugly – Zahler’s writing and filmmaking style is kept simple but engaging, his use of character invention is spectacular almost Tarantino-esque, he knows how to deliver these weird, wonderful & downright nasty son of bitches to the screen, casting old pro’s such as Don Johnson to bring home key roles in his movies, and what about the great Udo Kier as the mysterious Placid Man, Kier’s role maybe small but it’s so pivotel and I can’t think of anyone I would rather play that role, Dexter’s Jennifer Carpenter gives a good turn as Bradley’s wife and Buffy’s Marc Blucas is eye catching as Bradley’s boss – but essentially Brawl in Cell Block 99 is Vince Vaughan’s movie, it’s a role that’s truly up there with some of the memorable film roles of all time, such as Travolta’s Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction, Nicholson’s Jack Torrance in The Shining and more, Vaughan at times prowls the screen like The Duke did back in the old western’s of yesteryear, his wrestling background and stature is used by Zahler to great effect giving his character this imposing look who carries this quiet yet unsettling demeanor, for me a bit like Vincent D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk, those fight scenes in the last 40mins are quite something….
So to be very clear Brawl in Cell Block 99 is not for everyone, if you hate violence & don’t like to hear bone crunching sounds or watch torture and all sorts of blood curdling tear ups then please stay well clear of this movie – but if like me you like your films hard hitting with slices of no nonsense movie escapism then you will revel in this brutal uncompromising cult classic – now I only have to wait till next year for S. Craig Zahler next movie the epic titled Dragged Across Concrete that stars Mel Gibson & Vince Vaughan, my mouth is drooling already…. ★★★★½
For those of you who follow me on social media or read this movie blog you will know by now that I adore Ridley Scott, his movies and all things Alien but in recent years I have been quite vocal on this legendary directors fall from the dizzy heights of yesteryear to churning out such ordinary movies, average affairs such as Robin Hood, The Counselor, Exodus: Gods and Kings and the pretty dismal Prometheus – I am so conflicted, the one side of me is so grateful to this legendary filmmaker for giving us so many iconic movies but the other side keeps asking the question “why does Ridley Scott continue to direct such sub par movies? take a leaf out of Tarantino and Cameron’s book, maybe direct a film every few years instead of every year?” it’s my opinion that these films will only tarnish his brilliant reputation – I really had hoped that Ridley had turned the corner back in 2015, I absolutley loved The Martian with Matt Damon this was a real return to form from a director in need of some resurection so when it was announced that a new Alien movie was in production a sequel to the dreadful Prometheus nevertheless I was pumped, excited and looking forward to maybe a new chapter in this great series of scifi indulgence…..
Sadly for me though Alien Covenant was not what I hope it would be, yes it was better than Prometheus (well that wasn’t hard now was it) and yes maybe over the last 10yrs The Martian aside it’s one of his better efforts but overall it was a big screen blockbuster that left me feeling flat, it was way too predictable, contained some shitty CGI that made the overall production feel shoddy and unpolished and although Covenant had it’s moments it’s narrative tried to over complicate things so the reasons why we loved the original movies were lost in this world, a franchise that was slowly becoming more about the androids than anything else – Ridley also thought it was a good idea to go all mystical on our asses so inserted some really strange Obi Wan moments featuring David from Prometheus, living like an old wise hermit in a cave, listening to wind chimes and blowing his flute delivering lines such as “you blow and I will do the fingering” I just found all this mumble jumble embarrassing, out of place and lacking any sort of vision, suspense and was almost laughable at times….
I am not saying that Alien Covenant as a movie is a complete disaster, for me it’s not got that Ridley Scott stamp on it – McBride and Fassbender are both terrific in their respective roles and some of the nice homages to previous movies were great to see but overall Covenant felt like a bad dream a two a penny slasher that felt like a rehash of the original movie that is desperately trying to emulate all the things that worked such as (face huggers, chest bursters, acid for blood and so on) yet delivering it all with no panach and most importantly zero tension, yeah it’s a shit load more violent than it’s predecessors but that’s nothing to be proud about, what made 1979’s Alien so damn good was it’s slow burning tension that’s gnaws away at you but with Covenant you feel nothing – most of the films undoing in my opinion is it’s lack of humanity I felt so disconnected to the crew of the ship, the characters in the movie were not developed enough so when they slowly start getting picked off I actually felt very little for them, I was numb and that overall summed up my experience with this movie at it’s finale – I just hope Ridley doesn’t out stay his welcome and he lets go of the Alien reigns and allows a new filmmaker to bring some fresh ideas to this much loved franchise ……★★★½
Geoffrey Orthwein & Andrew Sullivan have crafted something quite majestic in BOKEH an end of the world movie that flows like an Icelandic waterfall and captures the backdrop of Reykjavik like a painting, subtle with mouthwatering color, mystery and full of energy all of which adds to their movies narrative and overall feel….
The film starts with a young couple Jenai (Maika Monroe) and Riley (Matt O’Leary) both enjoying their vaction, taking photos and making the most of their gorgeous surroundings – the early snippets of the movie is like an advert for the perfect Iceland vacation, clips of the pair visiting such sites as the famous Geysirs, the many Waterfalls, the Islands moon like landscape & the enchanting Blue Lagoon – the film then switches to a scene where Jenai is standing looking out through her hotel window, it’s the middle of the night and a northern light storm engulfs the dark skylinefill appearing to approach Jenai’s position before disappearing into the night – suddenly as if a dream its now morning and Riley is waking Jenai up, they then leave their room hunting for some breakfast when they start noticing that there is nobody in the hotel and once outside they discover to their disbelief that the population of the city has vanished leaving the two of them isolated together in a city that is now empty of its character, its many voices, its smells and vibrancy – and then it hits home, they’re alone and now what do they do?….
This film took me by surprise, I had seen Maika and O’Leary in other projects but this movie and it’s filmmakers were not on my radar and having recently visited Iceland this gave the movie a sense of realism that totally captivated me, the films gorgeous photography, it’s haunting storyline and how the film looks at the plight of Jenai and Riley and the strain it takes on their relationship gave me chills, so as I sat their enthralled by Bokeh I wondered to myself what would I do if ever faced with this scenario? Towards the end of the movie I was aching for more, I wanted to see how the characters handled the harsh winter, the snow covering their now forced upon city and watch them take in the magical northern lights dancing across the sky, but sadly I guess Orthwein & Sullivan had to finish the movie at some point and its finale is both beautiful, tragic yet so befitting….
The film’s title Bokeh means the out-of-focus parts of an image taken from a camera lens and somehow depending on which side of the fence you sit can also describle how both the characters in the movie view the circumstances they find themselves in, one of them is slightly more happy to go with the flow and accepts their lot, the other cannot and will not accept that this has happened – Bokeh is an absolute delight from start to finish and one that I just can’t stop thinking about – from its stunning Icelandic location, refreshing exciting yet tragic storyline and two engaging performances by Maika and O’Leary Bokeh gives a twist and turn to the normal zombie infested “end of the world” style movie – a true hidden GEM and one that will divide opinion…. ★★★★